Eagle & Hind, Chelmsford

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 17/02/2016 - 14:08

Transforming my pub business to fit to the local market

Kate Martin has been working in the pub industry since she was 18 and knows the business from top to bottom. She took a tenancy at The Eagle & Hind in 2004, in the outskirts of Chelmsford near a residential area and close to a small parade of shops.

Things went well to begin with, but Kate noticed that profits started to creep downwards.

‘I knew I was doing things right, but people in the area have an eye for a good deal and it was hard to keep my beer and food prices low,’ comments Kate. ‘When the recession started to bite, it was even more noticeable. Customers were eating out less and looking for better value when they did. I felt like I was pricing myself out of the market.’

Kate approached Greene King to talk about a revamp for the pub and they agreed that things needed to change to reflect what was happening in the area. ‘I expected them to come back with proposals for a major refurbishment but they suggested something completely different,’ says Kate.

Greene King had just launched Meet & Eat, a nationwide franchise, and suggested that the pub was a perfect candidate for this new Agreement. It’s a simple formula – with Meet & Eat, everything’s done for you. Greene King redecorate the pub, supply the beer, the food, the entertainment formula and even the marketing support.

‘Greene King supplies everything for you, taking advantage of their massive purchasing power and combining it with the skills they have developed from more than 200 years helping people to run their own pubs. The result is better than I could do on my own – great products in a great pub that delivers the best value,’ Kate enthuses, ‘exactly what this community needs!’

When the pub reopened in 2012, it was a little tricky to start with. ‘I was used to doing things my own way and suddenly everything was done for me – that took some getting used to. But then I realised that I had to evolve and change as well as my pub. Although I didn’t know about Meet & Eat, I DID know about my customers and I needed to use my business acumen to do what’s right for them. I have learned to trust in my own instincts,’ says Kate. ‘Now I can concentrate on getting the details right. Meet & Eat isn’t for Licensees with big egos, but if you are prepared to ‘go with it’, this can be a great way to run a pub.’

‘I try to make sure that I recruit staff who will work the same way that I do. So many people think that a pub job is a doddle, but it isn’t like that any more. Apple computer stores changed everything, turning good service into great sales – and I have the same philosophy. My team are here to sell through great service. I need confident people who understand they have a sales job to do!’

‘Greene King has been brilliant with their support. I have access to a Business Development Manager when I need him and they run an online artwork studio for posters and promotions. If there’s a new dish on the menu, I can see training videos and product information and show it to my team too. But what’s most important about their service is that it is there WHEN I NEED IT – not forced on me!’

‘Sine we reopened as Meet & Eat, my business has transformed. My customers are canny with their money and now they understand that The Eagle & Hind provides good value so they come and spend what they have here, where it goes further. I think Meet & Eat is a winning formula that simply works – that’s why I am looking to open another franchise pub with Greene King soon!’